It was after an earlier venture failed that Bengaluru-based Manish Chowdhary co-founded WOW Skin Science, a direct-to-consumer products with his brother and two friends. This was in 2015. Earlier, he was running a retail chain that sold IT products. When they started, WOW Skin Science began with only five products. Today, the brand boasts of 200 skin and hair care products.
When Chowdhary isn’t busy steering the growth of his company, he spends time with his family. But as curious reader and learner, he spends his free time looking up topics of interest – learning about North Korea is one example. “I am curious to know how a country has managed to be remain so isolated in this day and age, how people there live their lives," he says, admitting that his search history is filled with videos and documentaries of the reclusive country.
Chowdhary, who is open to inspiration from various sources, including from the brand Nike, talks to Lounge about creating a healthy competitive environment at work, and working towards work-life harmony. Edited excerpts:
Who do you consider your mentor and why?
I have had the opportunity to work closely with Sanjiv Kaul, partner at ChrysCapital. He has backed our brand vision with such gusto that I have been inspired to push boundaries. He gave guidance on leadership, how to institutionalize the company and create a great culture. The other person I look up to is Tarun Puri, former Nike India CEO. Tarun is known for injecting deep understanding of consumer needs into global strategy development and implementation, and thinking long term.
What does being a mentor mean to you? How do you mentor your colleagues at work?
My mantra is “fail fast, fix fast”, and I push my team to always think on those terms. I encourage my colleagues to compete with their own best performance. More than competing among each other, I urge them to best themselves. Our focus is customer obsession, and so lot of my time goes in helping my team solve customer problems rather than focussing on market competition.
What time do you wake up and what's the first thing you do after waking up? Basically, what's your morning schedule after waking up?
I wake up at 6 am and start my day with a cup of hot coffee. I do light workout and some meditation to get my mind and body going. It also helps me to plan my day ahead since most days are typically filled with meetings and ideating on top-level decisions for the company. I eat a light breakfast as that keeps me energized and then I get to my mobile device to check mails and catch up on work. I also sit down and plan my work schedule for the day.
How to you mitigate afternoon slump?
I recharge myself in the middle of a busy day by having a good meal for lunch, and few hot cups of cappuccino.
What’s your idea of unwinding?
Before the pandemic, I would de-stress by playing tennis. In fact, my day would not be complete if I had not knocked around a few shots around in the court. Now, that time goes in calls.
What's the one positive work routine you have developed during the pandemic?
It has taught me to balance my professional and personal life. In the beginning, it was a challenge to keep the kids away from the workspace or take out time for them since I took their presence in my life for granted. But over the last two years, that has changed I have learnt to dedicate time to both aspects of my life and nurture both my business and my family in an effective way.
In fact, managing better work-life, where we don’t have to work on weekends and wind up work at a decent time in the evenings, is what we are working towards. It’s our north star and what we are aiming for it in the next 12-18 months.
What’s your skin care routine like?
I am an ardent user of our apple cider vinegar face wash and the Vitamin C serum for my skincare.
Any book/podcast/app/videos you would recommend about mentorship and workplace growth? Why?
I enjoy reading autobiographies as I find little life lessons that motivate me in my day-to-day activities. I also read management books that help in my work and planning. I find the memoir of Nike’s co-Founder Phil Knight, Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, very motivating. It chronicles the mistakes, struggles, and sacrifices that one must make to find success, and make a dream come true. Both the brand and the book inspire me in a big way.
Monday Motivation is a series featuring founders, business leaders and creative individuals who tell us about the people they look up to and their work ethics.